Yesterday’s rant had not been posted more than an hour when I got a call from an old friend who has been reading these rants ever since they appeared on the Internet. He said that I was obviously getting old and that “you lost your fastball.” His explanation was that in recalling Bill Russell’s amazing legacy of winning championships, I missed the opportunity to cite a remark made by one of Russell’s teammates, Tommy Heinsohn, about Russell’s legacy.
I admitted my error; I should have immediately put that comment in yesterday’s piece as a tribute to Bill Russell. So, here it is today – – a day late. This comes from an article in Sports Illustrated more than 20 years ago:
“Look, all I know is, the guy won two NCAA championships, 50-some college games in a row, the 1956 Olympics, then he came to Boston and won 11 championships in 13 years, and they named a [bleeping] tunnel after Ted Williams.”
One more time, rest in peace, Bill Russell…
Having had some time to think about the 6-game suspension handed down to Deshaun Watson by the NFL arbiter, I think that she did what a judge is supposed to do in rendering a decision. That makes sense because the arbiter here is a retired Federal judge; this sort of thing is what she did for a living. The first part of the process was to decide based on a preponderance of evidence – not a decision beyond a reasonable doubt – about the veracity of the claims against Watson. Clearly, she decided that Watson had indeed acted “inappropriately” with at least some of the women who had made these allegations. If she had believed Watson in his claim that he never did anything wrong, there would have been no punishment of any kind.
After coming to that conclusion, she did judge-like reasoning. She looked to precedent regarding how other NFL players in similar – not identical – situations had been punished. In this case, Watson was investigated by the District Attorney in Houston and no charges were brought against him. Therefore, the arbiter in this case looked for similar cases involving NFL players alleged to have assaulted women but who were never convicted of such a thing.
If I am correct in reconstructing the thought process here, then these are the precedent cases that are relevant. The Ray Rice incident is irrelevant because there have been changes in the negotiated Personal Conduct Policy subsequent to that matter. I will not pretend to have done exhaustive research here, but these are precedent cases I would look to were I the arbiter here:
- Ezekiel Elliott – – alleged assault and domestic violence. Suspended 6 games
- Darius Guice – – alleged assault and battery. Suspended 6 games
- Greg Hardy – – alleged assault and domestic violence. Suspended 4 games
- Jarran Reed – – alleged assault. Suspended 6 games
- Jameis Winston – – alleged sexual assault. Suspended 3 games.
The precedents here indicate to me that the arbiter thought it was appropriate to give Watson “the max” based on history. One can argue that this case was “worse” than some of those others because it involved two dozen different victims and/or one can argue that the arbiter should have used this case to set a new standard for players accused of “crimes against women”. However, the decision here looks to me to be on point.
I suggested yesterday that only the NFL itself was in a reasonable position to appeal this decision. Having thought about it overnight, I believe the NFL is best served by letting this matter recede into memory; no one derives benefit from keeping this matter alive – – assuming of course that there are no new accusers who reopen the criminal investigation(s) leading to… There is one “bad optic for the league” involved here but it should not be bad enough to keep this story at or near the top of any sports page:
- Deshaun Watson will return to the field in Game 7 of the 2022 season. That will be on October 23. That is amid the NFL’s “appeal to women month” where players wear all sorts of pink “accessories” to raise awareness of breast cancer. [Aside: Are there actually people who are not yet aware of breast cancer?]
- Someone needs to take Deshaun Watson aside and tell him not to wear pink shoes for that game – – or for the Browns’ next game on October 31.
- If he decides to “wear pink” for those games, that decision could easily find itself in the Hall of Fame of Bad Decisions.
Moving on … The “Kyler Murray Contract Saga” took an interesting turn yesterday. Recall that Murray signed a huge contract that included a “mandatory study clause” which the team had to rescind from the contract after all the negative press that it generated. That seemed to be a tempest in a teapot that would dissipate itself once Murray reported to training camp and the news focus would involve the normal minutiae of a training camp. Then yesterday the announcement came that Murray tested positive for COVID and that he would miss the next 5 days of training camp.
Here is the good news:
- He now has plenty of time to do his “individual study” regimen even though it is no longer a contractual requirement.
Finally, apropos of nothing, let me close today with this definition from The Official Dictionary of Sarcasm:
“Jazzed: A position on the excitement meter somewhere between ‘would rather be having oral surgery’ and ‘I just got Dish Network.’”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………